Sunday, 10 December 2006

Not So Gay Friendly Tories

Tony Cameron, since his accession to the forefront, has been busy weaving a clearner, friendlier and more liberal image to his party. This has included support for the Civil Partnership Act and a call for more involvment of gay people in political life (see previous post on this).

For a while people seemed to be taken by this although there are signs that this might not be quite the case any more. It is certain however that the new official stance of the party has angered some of its more orthodox members. In reaction to both these facts, it seems the party is about to make yet another u-turn with a call to a return to "Victorian Values. That would be hypocrisy, then. The victorian being renowned for keeping up appearances while they went about their secret lives.

The Guardian article referred to by the previous link also alludes to a recent declaration by Ian Duncan Smith (the previous incarnation of Tony Cameron) in today's Sunday Telegraph regarding Gay couples:

Duncan Smith's report will say family breakdown costs £20bn a year, adding: 'At the heart of stable families and communities lies marriage. For too long this issue has been disparaged and ignored.' Underlining his traditional views, he told the Sunday Telegraph that gay couples were 'irrelevant' to family policy because only 0.5 per cent of Britons were gay. The true figure is six per cent.

Duncan Smith was quick to try and correct the negative impression his decelaration had made:
Mr Duncan Smith later said a factual response had been "distorted into an alleged slur on gay couples". [... he] said his interview with the Sunday Telegraph had been taken out of context.

Here is however the relevant extract of the text of the original Sunday Telegraph article:
He concludes by reiterating: "Two parents looking after a child has got to be what you want."

At this point, it does not seem unreasonable, given recent declarations by Mr Cameron on equal treatment for gay couples, to verify that by "two parents" he means a man and a woman.

Mr Duncan Smith says: "Well, I don't think the gay stuff is anything to do with this because it's all sort of…no… it's irrelevant.

"We're looking at figures about the bringing up of children. When it comes to gay couples they don't even register on the Richter scale of how to bring up kids.

"It's not an issue. We are looking at the issue of who brings up kids and it's men and women that are the issue here."

But Mr Cameron has said that homosexual couples will get as much support from a future Tory government as heterosexual ones.

Mr Duncan Smith says: "How many gay couples have kids? Come on. It's a tiny number. We're talking about the whole universe of the UK bringing up kids while a gay couple with a child is a very small number of people."

Gay adoption, however, has been legal for a while. "Yes I know, but we're not talking about that because the numbers are beyond measurement at this stage.

"If you think that something like half of a per cent of Britain are gay, you are dealing with tiny numbers here. That's not what the report is about. We haven't touched on it, we don't have a view on it, we don't even have a comment to make on it. Just stay on the other issues."

It seems the discussion, for now at least, is closed.
I'll leave you to make up your own mind... I have made up mine: at the very least, they don't care, but it may be more sinister than that.

Update - 11 December 2006
Further information found in the comments section of this post about the irrelevance of gay parents. Admittedly these are US figures but they will give an indication of what is happening in this country.
There were an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 gay and lesbian biological parents in 1976. In 1990, an estimated 6 to 14 million children have a gay or lesbian parent. Between 8 and 10 million children are being raised in a gay and lesbian household. (Source)

(Make sure to read the comments below)

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  1. This is sad... you have willingly chosen to misinterpret what IDS said and, in doing so, cheapen the rest of your blog.

  2. Hi Max,

    Thanks for your comment. I don't think I have "willingly chosen to misinterpret what IDS said". I pride myself in trying to always be fair and rational in what I write on my blog.

    Having read what he had to say on the subject I am simply concerned that at the very least he doesn't care (shown by the dismissive way in which he talks about "gay stuff").

    As for the fact that the number of couple is too small to be relevant, I think that THAT is irrelevant. Isn't the aim of IDS to prepare a policy for a future government? Isn't he suppose to take everything into account and be ready for all possibilities? Why dismiss an area of his work which, although new (adoption for gay couples is only under a year old), has a potential to create serious problems for the people involved (through homophobia)?

    I would have been much more at ease if he had pointed out that the numbers were low and therefore probably didn't pose much of a problem but that those couples still needed to be taken into account.

    I also think that the sentence: "We are looking at the issue of who brings up kids and it's men and women that are the issue here." is a bit of a give away on IDS' position regarding gay parenting.

    It exists and can't be swept under the carpet however much IDS would like to do so.

    Also posted on the comment section of Handbags at Dawn.

  3. "We are looking at the issue of who brings up kids and it's men and women that are the issue here."

    Again - look at the context. IDS was talking about which kids are causing social problems. A gay couple who have leapt through goodness-knows how many hoops to adopt a child are highly unlikely to suddenly start neglecting the adopted child. It is the men and women who are breeding with no thought for the children produced that are causing this problem and that is what IDS was getting at.

    As homosexulas, we should be glad that this man is treathing the matter rationally and regarding it as a non-issue.

  4. I would like nothing better than to believe that the Tories have changed and are TRUELY supporting gay rights. I just find it very difficult to believe that they can have changed their minds so quickly on what is usually such an emotive question.

    IDS was ready in 2003 to vote to reinstate Section 28 then making a u-turn and supporting its repeal (source), stating however that children must be protected from "influences that are malign". Even Ann Widdecombe found this rapid change of heart strange at the time (same source). What would stop him to make another u-turn and go back from his old homophobic ways.

    We must certainly give the man (and the party) a chance but we must also remain vigilant.


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